If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you know how important blood sugar control is for your long-term health and day-to-day function. While prescription medications and routine exercise help maintain appropriate and steady glucose levels, diet really is foundational to managing diabetes successfully. Here’s more on common dietary plans for diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics.
Whether you are Type 1 (insulin-dependent) or Type 2 diabetic, your healthcare provider wants you to be as disciplined as possible at mealtimes. That means intentionally setting standards for when and what you eat so you can properly manage your blood glucose levels. While exercise and medication also play a role in keeping your blood sugar steady, keeping track of the sugar in your diet can help you avoid complications of diabetes such as vision loss and peripheral neuropathy.
In general, people with either type of diabetes should:
- Eat at the same times every day (three meals and at least one snack)
- Balance nutrient intake with exercise
- Decrease the amounts of fats–especially trans fats–and sugar (white sugar, high fructose corn syrup) in their diets
- Take their prescribed diabetes medications, including insulin, as directed by their healthcare providers
Close consultation with a primary care physician, nurse practitioner, and/or nutritionist helps the patient determine a meal plan suited to their weight, age, stress level, personal preferences, and activity level. In short, meal plans should be fully individualized as no two diabetics are the same in their immediate health needs and long-term goals.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends choosing one of two ways to balance key nutrients, such as proteins, good fats (olive oil and nuts, as examples), fiber, and carbohydrates (starchy vegetables and fruits). You may plan your meals by choosing either of these methods:
- Counting carbohydrates
- Portioning your dinner plate
Counting your starches, or carbs, helps keep blood glucose levels within your target range. Your nutrition coach can instruct you about how many carbohydrates are in each food choice and how to size an appropriate portion. Counting carbs is an acquired skill, and people who use this method of dietary planning feel a real sense of control and empowerment over their food choices, weight, blood glucose levels, and overall health.
Portioning Your Dinner Plate
This is a simple, visual way to plan meals. Simply divide your dinner plate into four portions. One-quarter of your plate should contain natural fiber, such as brown rice. Another quarter should have proteins, such as poultry, lean pork, or fish. The last two quarters (half your plate) must contain vegetables, such as carrots, or dark, leafy greens, such as kale or spinach.
Whichever dietary plan you use, stay well-hydrated with up to eight full glasses of plain water daily. In addition, consume low-fat milk, yogurt, or other dairy products for added calcium necessary for optimal cardiac and metabolic function and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.
Diet Planning for Type 1 Diabetes
Individuals with Type 1 diabetes benefit from food combinations similar to those found in today’s very popular Mediterranean diet. The food choices in this kind of meal planning guide are low in the glycemic index. That means they do not cause blood sugar levels to suddenly spike and precipitously drop. Fiber, good fats, and lean proteins actually slow the digestive process and normalize the absorption of nutrients and their use in metabolic and physiologic functions, such as hormone production and joint movement.
The following are foods included in the Mediterranean diet:
- Plant-based proteins, such as legumes, nuts, and beans
- Other protein sources, such as eggs, lean poultry, and seafood
- Very lean pork and beef
- Soy products and tofu
- Fiber from whole grains, such as barley, oats, and quinoa
Strictly limit intake of processed foods that are high in animal fat and sodium, and completely avoid the intense sugar content of candies, crackers, cookies, and soda pop.
Diet Planning for Type 2 Diabetes
The Mediterranean diet is also highly recommended by healthcare providers for their patients who have Type 2 diabetes or who have elevated blood glucose levels (prediabetes). This diet also brings weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol down to normal ranges as well.
Other providers recommend that people follow the DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension). While it was designed to manage hypertension, it may also have benefits for type 2 diabetics. This healthy way of eating is very much like the Mediterranean diet in that it emphasizes plant-based food choices and good fats. The DASH diet seems to lower blood cholesterol levels and then has the added benefit of managing symptoms of diabetes and hypertension.
Diabetes Management in Oviedo, FL
If you are looking for treatment for diabetes in Oviedo, FL, come to the Diabetes & Weight Loss Center. Adriel Perez, Family Nurse Practitioner, and founder of the Diabetes & Weight Loss Center is passionate about giving people tools to manage diabetes and weight. Diet planning is just one of those tools, and he’ll help you plan a diet that you’ll love.
To learn more about meal planning and dietary plans for diabetes in Oviedo, FL, call us at (407) 890-1876 or request your visit here. We also feature convenient telehealth appointments. We look forward to caring for you!